Letter: Terror tactics

Sir: The US strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan will entail three especially disturbing consequences.

First, by announcing its bombing of a "poison gas" factory in a Khartoum suburb, the United States is clearly prepared to risk vast "collateral" casualties from released gases which might drift over the crowded city.

Second, the mere fact of an American response will enormously enhance the prestige of the Bin Laden faction in the eyes of the radicals and zealots everywhere. President Clinton will prove to be Bin Laden's most valuable recruiting sergeant.

Third, an increasing number of Arabs will conclude that the West cannot perceive them as human beings. To kill half a million Iraqi children through sanctions on the absurd claim that this will exercise pressure on Saddam Hussein, and then to object with an air of hurt innocence when armed gangs retaliate on an infinitely smaller scale, is to deny the principle of human equality.

Like violence in Ulster, Middle Eastern radicalism must be dealt with at a level of causes, not of symptoms. And those causes include the sanctions on Iraq and the indifference towards the continued expansion of Israeli settlement on the West Bank. Unless these two injustices are resolved, the dangerous process of alienation will continue.


London E5